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Here’s what you should know today.

1. Ikea is mulling 3rd party ecommerce sales

Ikea is mulling selling its ready-to-assemble furniture and home goods online through third parties.

In a statement emailed to Retail Dive, the company stated: “At IKEA we are curious and want to explore new areas and get new insights on how to reach and serve more of the many people. One part of that is that we are open to the idea of piloting and testing making IKEA products accessible through other online platforms than our own.”

The logistical sweet spot may be why the company has been so slow to ecommerce. Former Ikea CEO Peter Agnefjall​ attempted to spin Ikea’s slow migration to digital into a positive, saying last year that its late entry into online commerce could allow more nimble mobile capability from the outset. “We could have been faster, I could agree to that,” Agnefjall told CNBC last year. “But by being late we can skip a step in the technology development, straight to mobile and tablet.

Online furniture sales have emerged as a major growth area in ecommerce, rising 18% in 2015, second only to grocery. Some 15% of the $70 billion U.S. furniture market is now online, according to IBISWorld data.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

2. India’s Supr Daily raises $1.5M to expand its milk and grocery delivery service

The Supr Daily service is designed to bring formality and order to India’s chaotic system of morning milk deliveries.

Government reports suggest that as much as 68 percent of milk is ‘tainted’ as delivery people will water their milk down in order to get more bags and income for their lot. The milk can include additives like detergent, caustic soda, glucose, white paint and refined oil to mask coloration.

 Milk is the main hook for Supr Daily service but customers can also buy every day essentials like bread, eggs, butter and coconut milk to save regular trips to the shops.
Supr Daily started out with limited reach very deliberately to test the viability of its service, and now Kumar and fellow co-founder Shreyas Nagdawane are eyeing expansions. Initially that will be to cover all of Mumbai, and then later into one of India’s other tier-one cities.
Read the rest of the story here.

 

3.  Recommended Reading: Selling stuff is no longer the point of retail stores

That’s the future of retail, according to a new breed of startups that have embraced physical stores as places for “brand experiences” rather than mere sales. Consider Outdoor Voices, an athletic apparel brand that has gained a cultlike following among young, primarily female fitness enthusiasts.

The company’s four stores are home base for gatherings like “dog jogs,” community yoga, and brunch parties. As CEO Tyler Haney explained at the TechCrunch event, its stores “are not about revenue, but community.”

In the middle of it all are the upstarts, among them Glossier, Outdoor Voices, Warby Parker, Harry’s, Bonobos, Rent the Runway, Everlane, and Cuyana.

They are leveraging newly available real estate to experiment with boutiques, showrooms, and pop-up shops. Using physical spaces to build offline community has another advantage: It’s one place where Amazon doesn’t care to compete.

Read the rest of the story here.

Here’s what you should know today.

1. Indonesia’s second largest telco shuts down its ecommerce site

Indosat Ooredoo, Indonesia’s second largest telco by revenue, says it’s shutting down its ecommerce site Cipika.

It’s part of the telco’s shift in strategy away from launching new business units in-house. Instead, it’s collaborating with experienced partners and focusing on core strengths.

“B2C ecommerce will take a long time to reach profitability,” said Prashant Gokarn, chief strategy and digital services officer at Indosat Ooredoo.

The telco’s support of the SB Isat fund and startup accelerator Ideabox, which launched late 2013, is part of the shift to turn outward for innovation. Moving forward, Indosat Ooredoo is re-focusing on its core strengths, which lies in its consumer base and distribution network.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

2. Warby Parker’s new app lets you skip the eye doctor

Warby Parker wants to get you the right prescription glasses without forcing you to get an in-person eye test. It’s now testing its new Prescription Check app that uses your phone and computer in tandem to administer a 20-minute series of eye tests, which are then reviewed by a doctor who makes the final call on your prescription.

This could let Warby Parker sell people prescription glasses on impulse rather than hoping customers come back once they get their prescription the old-fashioned way.

For now, Warby Parker says only people between the ages of 18 and 40 in California, Florida, New York and Virginia who already have Warby Parker glasses are eligible for the test.

Without Prescription Check, Warby Parker users had to either find a doctor on their own to get a prescription, or come in to one of the startup’s roughly 50 retail locations that are mostly just in big cities.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

3. Facebook signs BuzzFeed, Vox, others for original video shows

Facebook Inc has signed deals with millennial-focused news and entertainment creators Vox Media, BuzzFeed, ATTN, Group Nine Media and others to make shows for its upcoming video service.

Facebook is planning two tiers of video entertainment: scripted shows with episodes lasting 20 to 30 minutes, which it will own; and shorter scripted and unscripted shows with episodes lasting about 5 to 10 minutes, which Facebook will not own.

Facebook’s move to acquire and license original content is the latest in its push to attract more advertising dollars, putting the company in head-to-head competition with Alphabet Inc’s YouTube Red, Snapchat’s Discover feature, and traditional television networks.

For the second tier of shorter shows, Facebook will pay $10,000 to $35,000 for each show and give creators 55 percent of revenue from ads, the sources said.

Read the rest of the story here,

 

 

Retail has gone through a revolution. A glance at recent headlines indicate that many global brands in Q1 alone such as BCBG and Urban Outfitters have shown signs of trouble. The former filed for bankruptcy, citing changing consumer habits and increased competition from online players as key factors and Urban Outfitters stated that the ‘retail bubble has burst’. 

According to Bloomberg, shoppers’ visits to retail stores in the US are declining every year, leading industry veterans to wonder, “is anyone not seeing large foot traffic declines?”

Online retail, on the other hand, is thriving in the US. Retail sales through digital channels, including mobile sales, increased by a massive 23% in 2015.

One player enjoying this shift is Amazon. The company now accounts for 43% of all online retail sales in the States and has ventured aggressively into different verticals; from private label fashion brands to groceries. It also made entries into new markets, to the Middle East through the acquisition of Souq, a possible entry into Australia and a rumored entry into Southeast Asia.

A key aspect to its growing success is its omnichannel strategy – allowing shoppers to buy whenever, wherever. The company has been using offline to compliment its online platform, for example, with the launch of its offline bookstores in the US and its trial launch of Amazon Go, an offline grocery store that allows shoppers to scan items and pay through the Amazon Go app. 

Traditional retailers try their hand at omnichannel

The omnichannel strategy focuses on the idea that providing a ‘perfect’ shopping experience requires an integration of online and offline experiences. This is to encourage cross-channel shopping so that customers who shop only in stores will begin also buying online, and vice versa.

Although brick ad mortar players have an advantage here, pure-play brands and retailers are testing offline strategies to offer enhance their entire brand experience. Online brands such as NET-A-PORTER used this strategy back in 2012 by launching offline pop-up stores and eye wear brand Warby Parker launched its first offline store in 2013.

In Southeast Asia, more players are following suit. Thai online fast fashion label Pomelo has launched pop-shops in Bangkok and Central Group bolstered its online presence with acquisition of Zalora.

Retailers are counting on an omnichannel strategy to be their “killer app”. But is this true?

Harvard Business Review teamed up with an anonymous US retailer that operates hundreds of offline stores across the country to find out.

Out of the 46,000 study participants who made a purchase during the 14-month period from June 2015 to August 2016, only 7% were online-only shoppers and 20% were store-only shoppers. The remaining majority used multiple channels during their shopping journey – these are the omnichannel customers.

Omnichannel customer behavior

Findings showed that omnichannel customers loved using the retailer’s touchpoints in all sorts of combinations and places, such as purchasing offline and having the product delivered at home, or targeting in-store customers with personalized messages to their phones.

Shoppers were found to be avid users of in-store digital tools such as an interactive catalog, a price-checker, or a tablet. They were also leveraging their smartphones to compare prices between stores and to download discount coupons but it’s important to note that,

Among customers who lived close to a store, no type of coupon made a significant difference to shopping or profits – HBR

The more channels customers use, the more valuable they are

Omnichannel shoppers spent an average of 4% more on every shopping occasion in the store and 10% more online than single-channel customers. With every additional channel they used, the shoppers spent more money in the store.

Customers who used more than four channels, spent 9% more in the store compared to those who only used one channel.

Omnichannel shoppers were also more loyal. Within six months after an omnichannel shopping experience, these customers logged 23% more repeat shopping trips to the retailer’s stores.

Findings suggest that deliberate searching beforehand led customers to 13% greater in-store purchases. This disputes arguments about the popularity of impulse buying and showrooming, which refers to how traditional shoppers conduct their research in the store and then buy online.

This particular retailer sees the rise of webrooming, consumers that go online to browse products before going offline to buy the products in-store.

Whether the richer, multi-touch point shopping experiences of omnichannel led shoppers to spend, return, and advocate more remains an open question – no causation can be determined – but the case for omnichannel retail is positive.

In a developing market like Southeast Asia, department store culture is huge but ecommerce is only beginning to emerge – less than 4% of total sales. Whichever player is able to reach omnichannel success first looks to capture a large share of the region’s $150 billion retail opportunity.

Traditional retailers with physical stores will do better not only by leveraging the power of the online world, but by synchronizing the physical and the digital worlds to provide shoppers with a multi-channel experience that online pure plays simply cannot match. – HBR

Findings in this article were taken from “A study of 46,000 shoppers shows that omnichannel retailing works”, published on Harvard Business Review.

Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Fintech startup LatiPay raises funding to expand to Singapore & US

What is LatiPay? Auckland based LatiPay allows Chinese consumers to pay for goods and services using Yuan whilst merchants receive full payment for goods or services direct to their local bank account in their local currency. Chinese payers can make payment through their preferred bank payment or Alipay, WeChat pay and more.

The platform has raised $3 million in Series A funding from Singapore-based venture capital firm Jubilee Capital Management. The expansion will tap into the increasing popularity of cross-border payments.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

2. Walmart launches free, 2-day shipping

Starting today, Walmart will begin offering free, two-day shipping on over 2 million items, with no need for a membership fee for ‘everyday essentials’. Walmart owned Jet.com Jet.com also offers 2-day delivery on hundreds of thousands of common items, and ships for free on orders over $35.00.

This could be seen as a response to the Amazon threat.

Read the rest of the story here.

3. US eyewear startup Warby Parker will launch 25 new stores this year

Warby Parker plans to open at least 25 retail locations this year, a rare brick-and-mortar expansion amid store closures at several chains. The eyeglasses seller said it would open stores in Miami, Los Angeles and other cities, bringing its total store count to about 70 this year.

The brand is often used as a key example for pureplay ecommerce players who have since adopted an offline strategy, bringing up observations about the changing phase of retail.

Read the rest of the story here.

Here’s what you should know for Tuesday morning.

1. Alibaba unites with Louis Vuitton and Samsung to clean up its reputation

Alongside partners including Louis Vuitton, Samsung and Mars, the company announced the Alibaba Big Data Anti-Counterfeiting Alliance on Monday. The Alliance will use machine learning and other technologies to identify and remove counterfeit goods from its platforms.

By working with high-profile names like Samsung and Louis Vuitton, they’ve found significant allies in a bid to go global and attract reputable brands.

Why are they doing this? This is a good PR move to salvage the reputation that was earned last year, especially following Taobao’s re-entry into the US’s notorious markets list.

 

2. StorePower helps groceries deliver without giving away the keys to the store

A startup called StorePower wants to take a bite out of the grocery delivery business by giving supermarkets an alternative to working with courier marketplaces like Instacart, Postmates, Amazon Fresh or Google Express.

How? Chicago based StorePower’s technology helps grocery stores of any size take orders from customers and arrange for in-store pickup or delivery. Customers can order by text message.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

3. Cambodia pushes for ecommerce initiative

As a coordinator of a group of least developed countries (LDCs), Cambodia has plans to encourage countries within the group to implement elements of their own “ecommerce” initiative to further their advancement.

Commerce minister Pan sarosak says: “In trade, we are also doing very well, so we try to help those countries benefit as much as they can in terms of trade with Cambodia as chairman and coordinator.”

Read the rest of the story here.

 

Industry Chatter

Founded in 2015, popular ecommerce startup Glazziq has established itself as one of Thailand’s top eyeglasses brands for the younger generation. The company is sells high quality, affordable glasses online and experiencing a healthy average monthly revenue growth of approximately 20% – with no additional help from external investors.

What makes Glazziq unique? Well, the company offers a ‘Home Try-On’ program to allow customers to order up to three pairs of glasses to try on first and for a small deposit that is returned as store credit once items are shipped back.

Sound familiar? The startup is often compared to Warby Parker, a highly successful US based startup that managed to disrupt traditional eyeglasses retailers by providing customers with a similar at-home trial.

Although initially met with a lot of skepticism, the US company is now estimated to be worth over $1 billion and since its inception in 2010, has added over 20 offline stores to assist its online growth. 90% of in-store shoppers have already visited the Warby Parker website and/or plan to make a second or third purchase online. 

The brand’s low prices and O2O strategy have attributed to its accelerated growth and awareness.

It was really about bypassing retailers, bypassing the middlemen that would mark up lenses 3-5x what they cost so we could just transfer all of that cost directly to consumers and save them money,” says Warby Parker co-founder Neil Blumenthal.

The successful integration between offline and online channels has created a unique browsing experience and propelled Warby Parker to be one of the most popular choices in North America for eyeglasses and Glazziq aims for the same success.

Although similar, Glazziq identified the demand for this kind of business model in Southeast Asia but adapted it for the region – all without the help of any external funding. How? With a smart business model, some traditional retail experience, dedicated founders and a market with high demand for spectacles.

Euromonitor forecasts that glasses in Thailand is expected to maintain a compounded annual growth rate of 5% to push sales to reach $13 billion by 2021. With so much potential, it’s surprising no company in Thailand has found a way to sell better to the digitally adept generation.

Equipped with an MBA from Kellogg Business School, on-the-ground experience from her family’s own 50 year old glasses retailer Better Vision and SET listed global lens manufacturer Thai Optical Group, co-founder & CEO Prinda Pracharktam decided to build Glazziq.

Prinda shared that people often admitted they felt pressured under the watch of a salesperson and unwilling to pay high prices for brand name frames and lenses. Others were overwhelmed by the sheer selection of eyeglasses. Glazziq wanted its frames to be affordable and designed to suit the tastes of its target market of 20-35 year olds.

The online glasses store was born to be the solution to these particular pain points so now how could they keep its fickle millennial demographic engaged?

The Glazziq Experience: Laid back, Trendy & Fresh  

When Glazziq was founded two years ago, Prinda and three other co-founders did everything in-house from snapping street style images of casual models to running online marketing campaigns and optimizing the design of the website.

By focusing on quality web content to mirror the appeal of flipping through a glossy magazine, Glazziq elevated the browsing experience for its customer. The company borrowed the same concept Instagram and Facebook fan pages used to keep their audiences engaged –  relatable content that inspired.

And this concept is evident in each collection from Glazziq. There is a clear focus on “everyday” imagery and the company keeps its product line trendy through a new model release every quarter and offers over 170 styles.

By creating a fresh and visually appealing shopping experience for browsers, Glazziq removes the pressure to buy and instead provides the customer with everything they need to make an informed and satisfying purchase: multi-angle views, information on glasses material, styling examples, etc.

“Glazziq focus on personalization to improve brand loyalty,” says Prinda. “We cater to our customer’s unique tastes by providing them with styles that are either popular in magazines or edgy frames that can’t be found elsewhere.”

glazziq thailand

The Glazziq Model: DTC

Glazziq operates on a direct-to-consumer model. The startup manufactures the glasses themselves from custom designs and leverages resources from its partner, Thai Optical Group. This allows Glazziq to keep prices affordable while maintaining high quality, models start at $56.26.

The company operates like a fast fashion brand in charge of its operations and brand identity, bearing similarities to the business model of another highly successful Thai fashion brand Pomelo.

Glazziq’s extensive offline network gives it an advantage over other online platforms. Prinda shares that Glazziq’s UV400 color lens provided by Thai Optical Group is unique only to them and they collaborate to keep up with consumer trends. The company also works with Better Vision to offer a free eye prescription test and after sales care including frame repair, frame adjustment and lens replacement, all the crucial components that are often missing from purchasing eyewear online.

To ensure efficient supply chain operations, order information from a customer is sent directly to the lens manufacturer where Glazziq stores its frames. The product is then assembled and delivered directly to customers nationwide through a mix of third party logistics couriers. The return process is also simplified through Glazziq’s partnership with 7-Eleven that makes its “Home Try-On” program even more appealing.

Customers can return sample glasses from the program to any 7-Eleven branch – something that happens 10-20% of the time. The program has proven to be successful as home try-ons welcome a healthy 60% conversion rate. Although the company’s primary focus is on Thailand, the team plans to expand to Singapore and Malaysia where Better Vision is also present.

The Glazziq Future: Integrating Offline Touchpoints

The Glazziq team knew when they launched that they wouldn’t remain a pure online brand and began to tread the offline waters in 2016. Glazziq’s decision came from a cautious outlook on Thailand’s landscape – the country’s ecommerce industry is predicted to make up 15% of total retail sales by 2024, although a sizable jump from the current 3.8%, it would still leave a staggering 85% offline presence.

“Thailand still remains a thriving offline retail landscape, people are never going to stop shopping in department stores or malls,” Prinda comments.

So came the decision to launch an offline showroom in one of Thailand’s bustling office districts in a coffee shop called Printa Cafe.

“We didn’t want a typical brick and mortar store. Using a high-traffic location such as a cafe gives our products a lot of exposure and the relaxed environment encourages people to try on different designs between cups of coffee. We wanted something entirely different from going to an eyewear store with a sales attendant breathing down your neck. We hope customers purchase because they’ve found a suitable model they like,” Prinda comments.

And it seems to be working as Glazziq recently added a second offline location to its portfolio at Casa Lapin – a coffee shop and co-working space highly frequented by young professionals.

Glazziq’s second offline showroom at Casa Lapin, a popular coffee shop and co-working space in a busy area in Bangkok.

Glazziq’s first showroom at Printa Cafe, located below the startup’s HQ.

To buy at the showroom, shoppers can simply scan the QR code on the product or buy online through the site’s search function. The customer can then make an online transaction via credit/debit card payment or bank transfer and the product is delivered within 5-10 business days.

Prinda believes Glazziq’s offline presence will double the number of sales and bring more awareness to the company’s “Home Try-On” program. It also hopes the added exposure will give the brand a new audience who will enjoy the entire Glazziq experience.

“Every channel has its own forte. For our brand, it’s better to close sales online and tend to customers offline,” Prinda says. “You have to synchronize and blend both online and offline experiences in order to succeed.”

THIS ARTICLE WAS BASED ON eIQ’s INTERVIEW WITH GLAZZIQ FOUNDER, PRINDA PRACHARKTAM